One of them is an outgoing guy who has made competitive promises to his fan base, marketed well, and moved his team from the swamps of New Jersey to the Metropolis of New York City. The other guy hasn’t given an interview in 6 years. One of them is well-kept and professional looking. The other is short and squat with a scruffy looking beard. One of them has worked hard to attract new names to his team to generate excitement. The other just let go of the biggest global phenomenon in sports faster than you can say “Eddy Curry”. It is easy to see why the first one has become a mysterious and intriguing media star, and why the other has become a punching bag for the press and the fans. One of them is Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov. The other is Knicks owner James Dolan.
But faster than you can say “Take my money, Travis”, I’m going to spin around and look at things from a team perspective. Let’s look at the events which have occurred since Prokhorov bought the Nets.
Prokhorov bought the Nets in 2010 like a run-down American warehouse you think you can furnish into a mansion. All of the old furniture was sold and cleared out so that the Nets could chase the big fish in the 2010 Free Agent Class. Prokhorov and his men walked into the store with enough money to buy two max-salary free agents, but found that the best he could lure from the shelves was Travis Outlaw. Dolan and his crew walked into the store, secured a star player, and continued the pursuit of the big prize. He failed to land LeBron James, but he wisely put his extra cap room in his pocket for later use. Prokhorov walked away with a big contract for a mediocre player and a team nearly as bad as the laughingstock he had originally purchased. Dolan came away with a max-level deal for a max-level player with more cap room stored away.
Months later, when both teams entered the hunt for Carmelo Anthony, Prokhorov found that he only had minimum salary-scrubs, one good young asset, and picks to offer, while the Knicks could give Denver picks and a multitude of young assets. The Knicks came away with Melo, but not before Prokhorov embarrassed himself by repeatedly entering and backing out of the chase.
A few days later, the Nets acquired Deron Williams. They had no assurance he would stay long-term. The move was one of desperation; Prokhorov needed to get SOMEBODY. When Dwight Howard became available, the Nets saw their chance to convince Deron to stay. But Prokhorov, Billy King, and the Magic could not get a deal done for Howard, and the Nets had to take on the contract of Joe Johnson, trade a high draft pick, and overpay Gerald Wallace to build a team Deron was willing to re-sign with.
You can argue how much Dolan and Prokhorov were involved in the moves. But Dolan is very hands-on, and Prokhorov (and Jay-Z) played big parts in attempting to lure the big fish to the Nets. The cap room and picks the Nets had ultimately turned into Deron Williams, MarShon Brooks, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez, and Kris Humphries, while the Knicks ended up with Stoudemire, Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Imam Shumpert, JR Smith, and several solid veterans such as Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton, Marcus Camby, and Kurt Thomas.
Letting go of Lin was probably a bit of a mistake, but looking past the semantics and into the basketball, the Knicks have built a better team with a better brand than the Nets have. Prokhorov is willing to go over the luxury tax by a huge margin, and willing to by billboards all over the city. But Dolan has shown that he is not afraid to get his hands dirty and antagonize the media and the fans. He doesn’t make moves because he needs a big-name player. He gets things done because he wants the players who make the team win. Dolan is very flawed, and has a huge ego which can get in the way of things. But go ahead, you take the charismatic, handsome media darling willing to throw away cash and cap room. I’ll keep the scruffy guy who has built a better roster, a more successful brand, and has won more than 23 games per year, Advantage, Dolan. Advantage, Knicks.
Tommy Rothman @LetsgoMets773 - Knickswag Contributor